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India Has No Case Of Avian Flu Says Health Minister

Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss reassured the nation that at present there was no threat of avian flu// in the country. He also admitted that India lacked the drug Tamiflu to battle the disease.

'We have been reviewing the situation over the last 15 months every fortnight and there are no cases of bird flu in the country,' Ramadoss said.

'There is no case of human to human transmission of avian flu but we are trying to be prepared for that and are working on a vaccine, creating the infrastructure, awareness among doctors and better diagnostic facilities,'he added.

The government has been able to appoint its own task force after the WHO raised an alarm in case the avian flu starts transmitting from humans to humans. So far it has been spreading from birds to humans.

The 10,000 birds that died in West Bengal have been sent to a high security lab in Bhopal and their samples have proved negative for avian flu. More than 60 people have died of avian flu in South Asia since 2003 and there is a fear of its mutating into a human strain that could kill millions, the WHO had warned.

Asked to comment on reports that the country lacked the anti-avian flu drug, Tamiflu, the minister admitted that there were no emergency stocks. But he said: 'There is no cause for worry as WHO has around three million doses stocked in Geneva that can be reached here within a few hours if any case is detected.'

'India plans to have one million doses in its stock and has already started discussions with Roche and GlaxoSmithKline, which are the main producers of the drug' be reassured the press.

Salim J. Hebayeb, the WHO representative in India, said: 'The avian flu is still evolving and we are satisfied with the preparedness in India.'

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